Vard Heaton's Life Story
Contributor: anybody Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
The majority of this history is directly quoted or summarized from “An Alton Farmer: Life Story of Vard Hoyt Heaton”.
I was born January 31, 1915, the seventh of eight children born to William Hoyt Heaton and Persis Esplin in Alton, Utah, in their home. …My hair was red and straight as a string. It did develop a little wave when I started high school, and started noticing the girls. My oldest sister, Irene, said my eyes were the color of a cat: hazel, I guess, or green. I was always slender and reached my maximum height, 5’11” when I was 15 years old. I have weighed between 140 and 155 lbs all of my adult life. My mother said I was shy, sensitive, and had a serious nature when I was young. I have been struggling with this problem all of my adult life and still am.
Our father was killed in a farming accident September 3, 1918 when I was 3 ½ years of age. My brother Gail was 3 ½ months of age. …I have thought about the time Mother and Dad spent together. They were married just under 22 years. He spent about 5 years of this time on his two missions in Texas, and considerable time at the sheep herd away from home. Their time together was short. Mother lived as a widow for 51 years after Dad died.
[When Vard was 5 or 6 years old, he brought some pinecones back from Rush Meadow. He was excited to roast the pine nuts when he got home. He pulled some hay out of the side of the stack at the barn and set it on fire, thinking only of his pine nuts. Soon the whole haystack was on fire. The stack was out a short distance from the barn and they hung wet quilts up on the side of the barn to keep it from catching on fire. There were four barns right there together. If one had burned, they probably all would have burned. Vard said,] I remember how badly I felt. The hay meant so much to our family at that time. The only income we had was from cream we shipped in five gallon cans to Salt Lake and from grain we sold to sheep men around. …Mother didn’t even get cross with me. I guess she could see how badly I felt and figured I had had my punishment.
When I was young there used to be lots of sheep run in the area around Alton …We younger kids used to go around these different herds; if they had lambs without mothers (we used to call them dogies), they would give them to us. We used to carry them in gunnysacks, hanging them from the saddle horn on each side of our horse. We would cut a hole and put their heads out so they could breathe. Sometimes they would die before we could get them home. We had several cows and some years we would raise 20 or 30 lambs. We would bottle feed the dogies on cow’s milk. We would eat the wethers and keep the ewes to raise our own sheep. This helped us get started in the sheep business.
My sister, Geneva and her friend, Idonna Gibson, taught school in Alton the year I was in 7th grade. …They needed someone to do the janitor work and Geneva asked me if I wanted to do it. It paid $10.00 a month and that sounded like a lot of money to me so I agreed to do it. The floors had to be swept each day, the blackboard cleaned and, after the weather got cold, a fire had to be built each morning in each room and ashes removed each night. I had to cut and carry wood for each stove. There was a large bell mounted up on the front of the building. You could usually hear the bell any place in town, especially if you were outside. It was part of my job to ring the bell 30 minutes before school and again 5 minutes before. I thought that was quite an important position – anyway it provided for our needs.
When I was young we raised most of our food. Mother always raised a good garden – potatoes, beans (green and dry), peas, lettuce, corn, lots of berries, plums, apples, etc. We raised our meat, mutton, beef, chickens (eggs), and pigs. We didn’t need to buy much and had nothing to buy with. …Mother made lots of cheese in the summer. …She used to make her own laundry soap … and even made her own lye sometimes. She would make her own potato starch as well.
We spent the summer months putting up hay, grain and other crops. Each fall at threshing time, we would save 25 or 30 sacks of the best wheat and load it on a wagon and haul it down to Glendale where there was a gristmill. One year someone left the gate unlocked between the corral and the stackyard, and 4 work horses and 2 saddle horses got into the grain. Both saddle horses died a few days later. That was a real blow to the family. We had nothing to pull the wagons or machinery – like losing all your cars, trucks, and tractors today.
[Vard remembers when electricity came to Alton, then later the telephone, and then running water. What a treat each of those was for the family! Vard said,] I can’t emphasize enough the gratitude we felt for electricity, running water and the bathroom with an inside toilet. I must have been about thirteen years of age at the time. I can imagine how Mother felt – she had lived a lot longer without these comforts. Sometimes we take these conveniences for granted. If we had to do without them for a while we would appreciate them more.
When I was 13, I went to Kanab to attend high school. [Vard stayed with various families, helping out to earn his keep. He did this for two years. His third and fourth years he went to high school in St. George. He worked his way through as a janitor. Unfortunately, he caught rheumatic fever. The doctor told him he needed to quit school so he went home for a few weeks. His joints would swell up and be very painful. After a 2-3 week recovery, he returned to school.]
One of the things I especially enjoyed while going to school in St. George were the school dances which they had almost every Friday night. They also had some students who formed an orchestra. They played on Tuesday nights for dances held in the upstairs room above the Wadsworth Theater; I really enjoyed the dances. I also really liked the basketball games and got enthused about them.
That summer Ross received a mission call to California and Mother was worried about how she would finance his mission. I just didn’t feel like I could go back to school. I probably could have gone and I wish now that I had gone, but I didn’t feel like I could then. That was the last of my school. I started herding sheep after that and I herded sheep most of the rest of my life until we sold the last of our sheep in 1971. One of the reasons I started herding sheep was because it seemed the only people who were able to provide for their families were those who were in the sheep or cattle business. …I am sure this was a mistake. I am sure my life would have been a lot more rewarding if I had gone ahead and finished school.
In the summers they used to have dances in Alton one week and then one in Hatch the next week. One night they were having a dance here in Alton and I didn’t want to go. Margaret Luke was living with us at that time… she went to the dance and then came back and told me that Floss (Florence Huntington) was up there. For some reason I didn’t think she was going to be there that night. I hurried up and changed my clothes and started running up the street. Mother had a bunch of those cottonwood trees growing right along the street to the corner. I ran into one of those trees, then came back to see what was the matter. My eye was swollen clear shut. I went up to the dance, peeked in the door, but did not go in.
Floss and I went together off and on for a year or two. Then after we started to go to school in St. George, I wanted to still date her. But one day I asked her for a date and she wouldn’t tell me yes and she wouldn’t tell me no. I figured she was going to wait and see if she could get a date with somebody else. So I told her if she wouldn’t tell me then I didn’t want to go with her. So we didn’t go together for quite a while. I came home and went to the sheep herd for 3 or 4 years and we didn’t date, but I still liked her. So finally one night there was a dance in Alton and I decided if she would go with me I would go with her again. I found out later that Floss had made a wager with her sister Ada about this time that she could get me to ask her to go with her again. (If I had known this then, I wouldn’t have asked her.) But we started dating again and then I had to go back to the herd and she went back to school, but about 18 months later we decided to get married. I’m not sure yet whether she married me because she liked me or because she felt sorry for me.
Floss and I chose September 8, 1936 for our wedding day. She and her mother came to Alton on the evening of the 7th and stayed at our home. We left really early the next morning for St. George. We had to go to the courthouse and get our marriage license. The clerk was out of his office and by the time he came, we were almost late for the session.
At that time people didn’t notify the people at the temple that they were coming to be married and they weren’t prepared for us. We finally made it through the session. There was just Floss and her mother and my mother and me. We waited quite a while for an officiator to come and marry us. Finally he came and took us to the east sealing room. Just the four of us and President Whitehead. He told Floss to get on one side of the altar and me on the other. He very rapidly read the marriage ceremony and when finished he turned to me and said, “I’ve done all I can for you – you can kiss the bride”. He picked up his papers and left. We didn’t know if we were married or not. But I guess it took – we are still married after 64 years and doing well.
When Dad died in 1918, Mother was left with her home, the 20 acres below her home, Rush Meadow, the Findlay Field and the Cow Pasture. Dad had a 640 acre homestead claim up north of the Bench Field. The government permitted Mother more time and she eventually proved up on it and received the title to it. She also had a few sheep. Our family worked together at that time under the name of Persis E. Heaton and Sons.
We did that for 8-10 years until Merrill and George got married. When Mother’s brother, George Esplin, bought a ranch in Colorado, my brother George decided to take the sheep which we had and move to Colorado with Uncle George. Merrill took the Bench Field and Rush Meadow and started working for himself, running a dairy. That left Mother and us four younger boys working together as Persis E. Heaton and Sons. We did that for 2-3 years.
Then Uncle George got into financial trouble, sold his Colorado ranch, and returned to Utah. My brother George also sold his sheep and came back. George bought Rush from Merrill and the field west of town and he ran a small dairy.
Mother and us younger boys acquired a few sheep again and they gradually increased in numbers. After a few years, George wasn’t doing too well in the dairy business and decided to move up to Alpine, where he would have a better market for his milk. We bought him out. Merrill was also struggling in the dairy business, complicated by the fact that he had allergies and had problems working in the hay. He decided to move to Fredonia and work at the sawmill. We rented his farm.
As we other kids were getting older, we continued to work with the sheep. It was right during the Depression. Uncle Israel’s and Uncle June’s families and other neighboring families were having a hard time and were discouraged. Land and sheep were selling real cheap at that time. We bought Reservoir Hollow, one half of the June Heaton Reservoir on the Arizona Strip, and an East Fork forest permit from Uncle Israel Heaton. A little later we bought Roundy Canyon and the balance of the June Heaton Reservoir from Lincoln Pugh. We bought Birch and the Merle Findlay allotment in Arizona from Merle Findlay. Later we bought the Elmer Jackson and Earl Jackson allotments in Arizona. We bought the Harold Sevy property and other pieces as they became available. We bought the land down around the Elbow from Ervin Roundy, Milton Roundy, and the last from E.J. Graff.
We operated under the name of Persis E. Heaton and Sons until the 1950s. When Mother decided she didn’t want to be involved any longer, we changed the name to Heaton Brothers. Through the years we worked hard to improve our property (clearing, re-seeding, etc.), water storage, and conservation practices. Loyd, Ross, Gail, and I, along with our wives and growing children, worked closely together. In the 1960s and 1970s we gradually changed from a sheep operation to Hereford cattle. We cleared more land to irrigate for alfalfa fields. At the time we made the legal change to a corporation, we changed the name to Heaton Livestock Company. Making a living in agriculture requires lots of hard work, long hours, and many challenges. But it has provided a good and happy life for all of our families.
Ross and I bought the house and lot across the street west of where we now live (200 South Main Street in Alton). The house had an open porch on the back and we tore up the floor and dug a basement by hand and hauled the dirt away with a wheelbarrow. We made a coal room, furnace room, fruit room, and installed a furnace in that basement. We built a bathroom and kitchen above it and when finished, Ross and Delila lived in the south side and Floss and I lived in the north side and we shared the bathroom.
Our first three children were born while we were living in that house – Vivian (1941), Janice (1943), and Raymond Vard (1946). The summer Raymond was born we bought the lot across the street to the east and that summer we started building a new home. We moved into an old house already on the north side of the lot (which used to be the old schoolhouse) and lived there while the new house was being built. By November 1946 it was so cold in that old house that we moved our things into the new (unfinished) house and continued working on it at nights after work. This has been our home the remainder of our lives. It was the only childhood home of our last three children – Douglas Kurt (1949), William Huntington (1954), and Terry Lane (1957).
Through the years since the children have left home, we have enjoyed many special visits and activities together. We love having our children and grandchildren come see us. We look forward to family reunions, special birthday celebrations, and holidays when we can do things together. Our fiftieth wedding anniversary reunion, my eightieth birthday celebration, and many other special family times bring us much joy. One such special time occurred a few years ago with Vivian and Janice, after their own families were about raised. They came out together to camp headquarters at Twins where Floss and I were tending the heifers in the spring during calving time. They stayed and helped us for a week. They rode horses, moved cows, and helped with whatever we were doing. One day Mother looked out of the trailer at Twins and saw Vivian and Janice coming up the valley with their horses on a dead run! She almost had heart failure. What she didn’t remember was what good riders they are. Such has been the good life we have enjoyed working side by side with each other and our family.
BLM: The winter or 1949 was a cold one – quite a lot of snow. Wayne Gardner froze while trying to find his camp in a blizzard. He had been a member of the BLM District Advisory Board and after his death I was appointed to take his place. I served on that board for the next 25 years. This board held meetings four times a year in St. George. I was also appointed by this board to represent the sheepmen on the Arizona state advisory board with their office in Phoenix, Arizona where they held their meetings twice a year. Then I was appointed by this board to represent the sheepmen on the National Advisory Board with offices in Washington D.C. where they held meetings once each year. Sometimes the National Board held meetings other places: Portland, Oregon; Riverside, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Salt Lake City, Utah; Lake Havasu, Arizona; and Floyd Lee’s Ranch in San Mateo, New Mexico. Floss went with me to some of these places and Ross and Delila went with us to the one at Floyd Lee’s ranch. The BLM working under the Department of the Interior was charged with the responsibility of administering all government lands not administered by the Forest Service.
Church Service: In 1960, Gail was made bishop of the Alton Ward and Horace Roundy was called as first counselor and I was second counselor. While Gail was bishop, they did extensive work on the church recreation hall and made a new foundation and floor in the hall and insulation in the walls and siding on the outside. They made a new bishop’s office, Relief Society room, kitchen, restrooms, and janitor’s closet. Gail, Allen Cox, and I and other ward members worked there most of the winter. We also painted all of the rooms in the hall. The ward members did all of the work under the supervision of Bishop Gail and Allen Cox.
On July 22, 1971, my brother, Ross was injured by a horse and he died August 13th in the hospital in Salt Lake. I went up and stayed for about a week and then came home. I was working on a fence between Don Spring and Cecil Pugh’s forest permit when Charles Brinkerhoff came to tell us he had died. His funeral was August 16th.
After the funeral, President J. Ballard Washburn called me to be the Alton Ward bishop to replace Gail. Gail had developed leukemia and cancer and his health problems were getting worse. On September 26, 1971 Franklin D. Richards set me apart as bishop of the Alton Ward. I was released August 21, 1977 and Orval Palmer was sustained as the new bishop and I was made financial clerk. Gail’s health continued to deteriorate and he died November 18, 1977. His funeral was November 22. Four others in my family have died since then: Merrill on May 6, 1985; Geneva on May 12, 1986; Loyd on September 22, 1993; and Irene on March 17, 1998.
We decided to build a garage on our house but thought it wouldn’t cost much more to also make a family room, bathroom, and a bedroom and bath upstairs, so we started in 1981 and finished in 1983 – if one is ever finished.
We were called to be temple ordinance workers in the St. George Temple and started January 7, 1984. Dee and Martha Roundy and Loyd and Alma Heaton were also called and we often took turns taking our cars and rode together. It was an enjoyable experience. We were released to serve our mission in 1989-90, then called again as ordinance workers in the St. George Temple on July 17, 1993, working on Saturdays. We served this second time until our release on June 21, 1997. Floss and I still enjoy attending the temple whenever possible.
In 1989, we received a mission call to Adam-Ondi-Ahman and left July 9. We arrived there on the 12th and got settled in our apartment. The other missionaries who were there were friendly and welcomed us into the group. We did not do proselyting but worked on beautifying the area, and worked in the Trenton ward. It was a great year and a half and we made many friends. We returned home in November of 1990.
I am very grateful to my older brothers and sisters, who did so much to help Mother provide and take care of us younger kids after Father passed away. I would especially like to thank Irene who did so much for Mother after she was unable to take care of herself. Irene and Billy took her into their home and made her feel at home and welcomed the last several years of her life.
I also express my appreciation to my wife who has supported and encouraged me throughout our married life. I am thinking of spiritual as well as temporal matters. She has been a constant companion ever since we were married. We spend most of the time from February 15 to June 1st on the desert where we watch the cattle at calving time. Floss and I, like my Mother, have lived to see all of our children happily married in the temple and rearing their families according to the teachings of the church – for this we are really grateful.
Floss and I have commented a lot of times about how fortunate we are to have the kids we have. How well they have gotten along! How obedient they were! They were never rebellious. They never acquired any bad habits. How blessed they have been in choosing their life companions! I don’t want to give the impression that we are better or know more than someone else. I do want to give thanks for the blessings we have received by having and raising our children. We have had a lot of people ask what we did to have our kids turn out so good. We don’t know. Maybe we were just lucky.
Some things that helped, I am sure, were: we taught them to work; we worked together in the home, the garden, the fields, and with the cattle. They inherited from their mother an optimistic outlook on life. She was always able to communicate with them. She lived her life on their level.
Before closing, I want to express my appreciation to our children and their spouses and children for the many things we learn each day from them and for the way they conduct their lives. I want to again thank my mother for the dedication she always showed in rearing her family, especially without the help of Dad in the later part of her life. It was her example more than anything that kept me on track. For her I am very grateful. I want to again take this opportunity to pay tribute to Floss for the patience, love, and devotion she has shown to me, the children and grandchildren. I am indeed grateful. You couldn’t ask for a better life partner than she has been and is to me.
MESSAGE TO MY POSTERITY
• Stay close to the Church.
• Listen to your parents. The older you get, you will realize more fully the wisdom they have.
• Listen to Church leaders. The Lord won’t let them lead you astray. Keep the commandments.
• Pay your tithing, fast offering and other church financial obligations.
• Be true to yourself and to your mate if you are married. Live to be worthy of the person you hope to marry when the time comes.
• Strive to obtain a good education and keep abreast of all knowledge as it is revealed to man. The more knowledge you have, the better equipped you are to live a happy and useful life and to be of service to those around you. Study the scriptures. You can learn so much from them.
• Don’t be afraid to work. Be thrifty. Save for a rainy day and be prepared to help others in need.
• Choose good friends and be a good friend. You are judged by the company you keep.
• Prepare for and serve a mission. Nothing you do will help you to live a more well-rounded life.
• Pay your debts.
Florence Huntington - Life Story
Contributor: anybody Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
The majority of this history is directly quoted or summarized from “A Rancher’s Sweetheart, Life Story of Florence Huntington Heaton”
On February 26, 1916, there was born to Alexander Wiley (Dimick) Huntington and Julia Anna Marie Barnhurst Clove Huntington, a girl – ME! I was born in my parents’ home in Hatch, Garfield County, Utah. They couldn’t think of a name immediately, so my name was sent in later (it is blank on her birth certificate). I asked mother why they named me Florence and she said because she thought it was such a pretty name. I received a blessing and name on July 2, 1916 by William R. Riggs.
My father, Alexander Wiley Huntington, was 5’11” tall with broad shoulders and he was heavy-set. When he was speaking to you his voice didn’t seem very loud, but it had a carrying quality so it could be heard quite a distance.
When I was small I liked to climb on his lap and comb his hair. Maybe that’s the reason he didn’t have much left. None of us talked back to him. He was just a person who expected you to mind and you did. He liked to read and could read without glasses if the book was far enough away.
He usually would get up early and prepare breakfast for the family. He liked to tell stories and we liked to listen to them. Once in a while if we did something he didn’t like, he would flip us on the head with his finger. It got the results he wanted, but it used to really make us mad.
One of my friends (who was in the same grade in school with me) was Bessie Sandin. Her father, Joe, went insane and was going to kill the family. The sheriff, Hi Evans, asked my dad to help him get Joe. When they went to get Joe, he attacked my dad. As they were fighting, he bit Dad’s chin. Joe was finally subdued and was taken to Provo where he was kept for the remainder of his life.
One year when I was young, my father and brothers went into Nevada to pick pine nuts. They came back with several large sacks full (several hundred pounds). One night during that trip a centipede bit Dad on his little finger. The finger swelled up until it was really big. Mother put flaxseed poultices on it to draw out the poison. If I remember correctly, eleven cores (pus bags) were drawn out of his finger. It was very painful and it was quite a while before he could use his hand.
Mother was 45 years old when I was born, the last of her ten children. She was about 5’5” tall and had white hair. Her hair went gray or white when she was in her thirties. She stood straight and was a little heavy-set. At Easter time when I was quite young, the other kids thought I was too small to go with them on an Easter hike. I felt pretty bad so Mother fixed a lunch for us and we walked up to the barn. We ate our lunch in the shade and I had a good time. That is the only Easter hike I remember.
One day I was complaining about my looks. (My hair didn’t look right. I wished my teeth weren’t crooked, etc.) Mother listened for a few minutes, then said, “If you act as good as you look, you’ll be all right.”
When I was in my early teens, Mother and I were alone at home. It was summer time and warm. We decided to eat breakfast outside since it was such a beautiful morning. We were just ready to eat, when an old Indian lady, Sally Ann, came by and Mother invited her to eat with us. Every day for several days she came until she left town. Each year she always rode a poor horse and camped down the street east of our place. She would build a little fire with sagebrush and always traveled alone. I’ve wondered what happened to her.
One day Bessie Sandin came to our place and asked Mother to hide her because her father was going to kill her. So Mother told her to go upstairs. A short time later, Joe (Bessie’s father) came to the door and asked Mother if she knew where Bessie was. Mother said, “No,” so he left. He didn’t want any trouble with my father. I think it bothered Mother to sort of tell a lie, but she didn’t know EXACTLY where Bessie was and she had to protect her.
When I was about six months old I had pneumonia and had it again when I was four years old. This last time I was taken to Panguitch to be near the doctor. Mother and I stayed at the home of Mat Evans. I was very sick and since this was Christmas time, the holiday season at home wasn’t the happiest since Mother was away from home and they didn’t know whether I would live or not. It was a long time before I was strong enough for pay. (Florence said her father gave the doctor some beaver pelts for pay.)
I was not baptized on my eighth birthday, but was baptized on August 17, 1924. I was baptized in the Sevier River by Mother’s oldest brother, Samuel J. Barnhurst, and was confirmed by him on the riverbank. I don’t remember having any special teachings regarding the importance of baptism and I played in the river afterwards while my friends were being baptized.
During the time that I was growing up, there were few cars in Hatch. When I was a little older we got an Overland car. My father had quite a few experiences while learning to drive it, like pulling back on the wheel and shouting “Whoa” as he crashed through a gate. We very seldom saw a movie and since we had no cars, TV, telephones (one in town), or radio, we made our own entertainment. We hiked the hills, gathered lilies, picked pine nuts and pine gum, climbed trees, rode horses, etc. Often we would take our supper and walk across the meadow east of town. We would build a fire on the hill (hoping it would attract other kids, especially boys), eat supper and talk. I also loved to read and spent a lot of time at it.
I often had to go across the meadow to get the cows. Sometimes when it was hot I would take my clothes off and swim in the river for a few minutes to cool off. When Dad was away from home, Ada and I had to milk the cows. I didn’t mind except when we had boyfriends come to see us, and it bothered me to have them see me milking a cow.
I liked to shoot a gun (22 rifle) and spent some time target practicing. Since I had very little money, I used the bullets sparingly, but got to be a pretty good shot. I disliked killing things, so usually shot at cans or other targets.
I rode horses often … one day while riding [my horse, Sweetheart], bareback, he was galloping down the street, approaching a ditch and a corner. I thought he would jump the ditch, but he stopped abruptly and I was thrown over his head and into the ditch. My back was hurt along with my pride. My pride recovered, but a degree of back injury remained from then on.
When I was growing up, we often had the young people of the town at our home for parties or just to visit or sing. We played Rook and Pinochle. My parents said they would rather have us at home with our friends, so they knew where we were and what we were doing. No quarreling or gambling was allowed.
Morning family prayer was a way of life in our family. All of the members gathered together to kneel in prayer before each morning to thank the Lord for his blessings and ask for his protection during the day. We had a blessing on the food before each meal.
No one slept in late, regardless of how late they went to bed the night before. We had very little sickness in our family. We were blessed with strong bodies. We didn’t have running water in our house and we filled a barrel with ditch water when we had water in the ditch. Otherwise, we could use water from a well at Uncle Jim Barnhurst’s place, about half a block away. That is certainly one way to teach a person to conserve water.
Our toilet was an outdoor one by the corral. At one time Dad brought a bee tree from the hills and set it up by the south fence. I had a problem getting from the house to the privy without getting stung. To this day I am still nervous when bees are around.
We had a “swing bed” upstairs, suspended from the ceiling by wires or ropes. I like the bed except when one of the wires would break (or be cut by a mischievous brother) in the middle of the night, letting one corner hang down. Since there were usually two of us sleeping together, we would roll or slide to that corner and spend the rest of the night in misery, because we were too sleepy to get up and fix it.
Our house was heated by a fireplace in the living room and a wood and coal stove in the kitchen. Sometimes in cold weather these weren’t capable of keeping the house very warm. We would sometimes wear some of Dad’s wool socks and take some warm “flat irons” to bed, but still we were often cold in the night. Sometimes my hands would ache with cold while making the beds because the quilts were so cold.
I went to high school in Panguitch three of my four high school years. We rode from Hatch to Panguitch in an old truck with benches along each side of the back. It had a pipe which ran the length of the truck, centered on the floor (for heat in the winter). It didn’t warm the air much, but it would burn our shoes or skin if touched.
One day the bus driver ran the bus off the road to avoid hitting a car and the bus tipped over. My sister Ada was pinned under the bus. The top side of it was across her chest. We were all so frightened we didn’t know what to do. I tried to lift the bus off her. With organized effort we might have helped, but most of the kids were running around crying. One of the older girls remembered passing some surveyors working some distance down the road and she ran to get them. They got a fence post and lifted the bus enough that Ada could be pulled out. The weight of the bus had made breathing very difficult and she wouldn’t have survived much longer. We all hoped the bus wouldn’t be able to run again, but it came as usual the next morning. The steering wheel was broken in half, but otherwise there wasn’t much change.
In the spring of my sophomore year the Panguitch school building burned down and we missed the last two months of school that year.
My father died that spring – May 30, 1932. He had been having fainting spells and finally had to stay in bed. His heartbeat slowed until it was beating only 12 times per minute. They gave him stimulants, but nothing seemed to help very much. He was finally taken to Panguitch and died there. I’m sure it was hard for my father to lie in bed when he had been so active all his life and had hardly ever spent a day in bed. He would look at his hands and it always amazed him that they had become so soft and white. He had always had the hard, brown hands of a working man.
That fall Theora Barnhurst, Mother, and I went to St. George and stayed at the home of Uncle Sam Barnhurst (Mother’s oldest brother). Theora and I attended high school there. We studied a little, played a lot, and really had a good time in the “big city.” I don’t know that we learned much in school, although I got good grades.
The young people from Hatch often went to Alton (twenty miles south of Hatch in Kane County) to community dances, basketball games, etc. It was at one of these dances that I met my future husband, Vard Heaton. It wasn’t one of those storybook meetings where you know instantly that “this is the one.” I wasn’t very impressed (and he probably wasn’t either). To me he was just another guy to dance with and flirt with. I went with him occasionally, along with several other boys. He began to get serious and I wasn’t ready to settle down yet, so we had a disagreement. He said the next move was up to me. I wrote to him and told him I hoped we could continue to be friends. He was also in St. George going to school while I was in my junior year of high school there and we continued to date occasionally. He studied very hard, but would take me to the dance each Friday night. I wanted more excitement, so I began going with him only if no one else asked me. I wasn’t a very nice person.
One day he asked me for a date and I told him I’d let him know after school. At noon he was upset. (He had just received word that his brother George’s wife, Jennie had died. He was going home to Alton.) He had finally gotten fed up with my actions and decided he didn’t like me anymore. When he returned to school in St. George, I found him more interesting because he was more of a challenge. He wouldn’t date me or have anything to do with me.
I went with other guys and it was two years before I went with him again. One night we planned to go to Alton to a dance. My sister, Ada, said Vard would probably be there, but it wouldn’t do me any good because he wouldn’t go with me. This was like a challenge to me, so I told her I would bet that I could get him to go with me. Strangely, at that same time, he had decided to go with me again. He planned to get me to liking him and then he would quit me. He did ask me for a date and I won my bet with Ada. However, this turned out to be the beginning (again) of a renewed friendship and courtship.
[Floss spent her senior year at Panguitch again.] I was valedictorian at the 1934 Panguitch High School graduation and received a $55.00 scholarship to Dixie Junior College in St. George An additional $10.00 paid my tuition for the year!
As I was growing up, there was little opportunity for work outside the home, at least in our area, so I was happy when I got a job working at Ruby’s Inn (near Bryce Canyon) during the summer of 1934. I worked as a dishwasher and cabin maid for 33 days. I worked sixteen to eighteen hours a day for $1.00 a day, plus room and board. With the money earned there, I bought my wardrobe for college. I bought two coats, two purses, two pairs of shoes, two dresses, plus a few underclothes. Mother and I again lived with Uncle Sam Barnhurst.
…I enjoyed school at Dixie…at the end of the year I received a $25.00 scholarship for the next year. The summer of 1935 my sister Ada married Arthur C. Nordell. They lived in Salt Lake City. They gave me $40.00 to finish paying my tuition for the 1935-36 school year. … I worked for Mrs. Thompson. Her husband was captain of the C.C. Camp. They paid me fifteen cents per hour for doing housework after school and sometimes on Saturdays.
The Dixie College Biology Dept. sponsored a trip to California and I went. We saw the Tar Pits, an alligator farm, went swimming in the ocean, tried out most of the rides at the Long Beach resort, and went to a burlesque show (my first and last). We also went across the border into Tijuana, Mexico for a few hours. We had a good time on the trip!
During my sophomore year at Dixie I was president of the Lambda Beta Theta Sorority and I was “D” Queen Attendant. I graduated from Dixie Jr. College that spring (1936) and I had mixed emotions – happiness for all the friends and experience I had been blessed with and sorrow because I knew that would be my last year at school and the last time I’d see most of these friends and teachers.
Sometime in the summer of 1936, Vard asked me to marry him and I accepted. …On August 26, I went with Vard to Cedar City were he bought my engagement and wedding rings. …We set our wedding date for September 8th. My sister, Abbie Fallis, made my wedding dress – white satin with a high neck, long sleeves and a flared skirt. On September 7th, Mother and I went to Alton and stayed overnight at Vard’s place. (I didn’t sleep very well, nerves I guess.) The next morning we left Alton at 5am for St. George where we obtained our marriage license and went to the temple. At that time they didn’t show special attention to the brides and grooms and explain things to them as they do now. I was so nervous I didn’t enjoy my first temple experience very much. When we knelt at the altar to be married, President Whitehead was frowning at us. He read the ceremony without expression, as fast as he could talk, quite a contrast to now. (This was on September 8, 1936.)
We returned to Alton [after a honeymoon to Salt Lake City to stay with Ada for a few days, accompanied by Florence’s mother and two others] and lived with Vard’s mother, Persis Esplin Heaton, and his two unmarried brothers, Gail and Ross. Also his brother Loyd and his wife, Ida, lived in two rooms in the southeast part of the house. …Adjusting to a new household wasn’t easy, but I got along well with everyone (although I probably tried Mother Heaton’s patience with my limited knowledge).
[Vard and Floss lived with his mother for about two years until Vard and his brother Ross bought a house one block east of Mother Heaton’s home and remodeled it. Ross and his wife, Delila, lived in the south half and Vard and Floss lived in the north half. They shared the bathroom. Floss spent a lot of time working with Vard with the sheep (which was almost an unheard of thing for a woman to do).]
I became pregnant soon after we moved into that house, but had a miscarriage in February 1940. …Happily, the next year, on April 26, 1941, our first child was born in Kanab. We named her Vivian. She was a cute baby and, of course, was her mother’s pride and joy.
In May 1942, Mother [was diagnosed with liver cancer]. [Her] condition deteriorated quite rapidly. I didn’t get to see her very often, since we didn’t have a car and we were living on $15.00 per month. She died September 30, 1942 and was buried in the Hatch cemetery. I hadn’t realized I would miss her so much, but I was glad she didn’t have to suffer anymore.
Our daughter, Janice, was born February 1, 1943. She was also a cute baby. We really enjoyed the girls, but Vard was still away from home quite a lot taking care of the sheep. The following year, on January 5, 1946 (a cold, windy day), we had another child. He was born in a nursing home in Panguitch. We named our first son Raymond Vard Heaton.
In 1946 we moved into an old home purchased from Wilford Heaton. We lived in it during the summer while we built our new home (just a half-block to the south). … It was made of gray cinder blocks trimmed with red ones.
On June 15, 1949 our fourth child, Douglas Kurt Heaton was born in the Panguitch hospital. He had allergies, and when he was about seven months old we bought a milk goat. It didn’t seem to help much. We lived in a sheep wagon much of the time while Vard was working the sheep. One time there was a loud clap of thunder and the goat jumped into the wagon. The kids thought it was pretty funny.
About 1953 several of the ladies from Alton worked on the movie, “Westward the Women,” being filmed near Kanab. The Alton “actresses” included Esther Heaton, Alma Heaton, Delila Heaton, Janiece Roundy, Donna Rose Palmer, and me. Berniece Roundy took care of my children while I was gone. …We received $10.00 per day and $15.00 if we did anything special. Esther, Donna Rose, and I played the parts of dead women and Esther and I rode horses. For those days we were paid extra.
On November 19, 1954, our son William was born in the Panguitch Hospital. He was a cute, good-natured baby and we really enjoyed him. On July 16, 1957 our last child was born in the Panguitch Hospital. We named him Terry Lane Heaton. He also was a very special baby and we were grateful that the Lord sent him to us. Time goes by so rapidly. We’ve kept busy raising the children, serving in the Church, and working the ranch.
Many of the things we did as a family were just a way of life and I hadn’t thought of them as being traditions.
1. We always raised a large garden, which entails a lot of work – planting, hoeing weeds, watering, harvesting, and canning, but I enjoy doing it. It is very rewarding to see shelves stocked with full jars of fruits and vegetables and to know you have food for the winter.
2. We always had cows to milk and chickens and livestock to feed and water. We slaughtered, cut up, and wrapped our own beef and mutton. We ground and processed our own hamburger and sausage. We also made jerky, which the children loved!
3. We always attended church meetings together as a family on Sundays.
4. We always knelt around the table for family prayer each morning and we all ate together.
5. On baking day we made our own bread, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, cookies, cakes and/or pies.
During the years while our children were in college, on missions, or getting married, Vard and I were mostly alone. I spent a lot of time with him on the Arizona Strip. We took care of the heifers when they had their first calves and made sure the other cattle had water and feed. We would leave home on Monday and return Friday night, so we could go to the temple on Saturday morning. We always attended church meetings on Sunday and went back to the Strip again the next Monday. Se kept this busy schedule from February until June. [Floss had many adventures working the cows with Vard.]
[Floss and Vard served as temple ordinance workers in the St. George Temple from 1984 to 1989. They served a mission to Adam-Ondi-Ahman for sixteen months. They served as temple workers again from 1993 to 1997 (interrupted only for a few months while Vard recovered from an arm injury).]
[They were faithful in their callings. Florence spent much of her life playing the piano for nearly everything in town. She was very gifted that way. She frequently made meals to take to her neighbors. And could be found helping wherever she could. Everyone knew that she always had a good word to say to them or about them. One of her greatest strengths was that she would not talk badly about anyone. She just wouldn’t participate in such things. She was uplifting to be around, and was cheerful and friendly.]
MESSAGE TO MY POSTERITY
The scriptures tell us that “wickedness never was happiness” and that is certainly true. If you want to have a really happy life, you will need to keep the commandments. Some of the things that I think are important (and not necessarily in this order) are:
1. Stay out of debt. Learn to live within your means. Save some. Buy what you need and not always what you want.
2. Pay your tithing first and you will be blessed.
3. Be honest. Tell the truth.
4. Don’t be afraid to say you’re sorry.
5. Obey the law of chastity. Be morally clean.
6. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Sometimes you will meet people who seem strange, but they have the same feelings as you do and the same need to be accepted.
7. Be kind to animals as well as people.
8. Forgive others when they do something that hurts you. Don’t hold grudges.
9. Stand up straight. It helps your appearance and your health.
10. Be on time. We are each allotted a certain amount of time and when you keep someone waiting you are taking something that you cannot repay (their time).
11. Prepare yourselves to serve honorable missions and be worthy to be married in the temple.
12. Get a good education.
Vard and Floss continued to live in their home and to work together for many years. They were nearly always together. They could be found working in their large garden (which they always shared). They milked the cows together every morning and every night, sharing the milk with their family and neighbors. They were always active in church and attended ward activities and the temple. Floss would frequently bring her delicious rolls to activities – they were always gone quickly. Their grandchildren remember spending many fun filled hours in their home: pulling honey candy, working in the garden, gathering eggs, and picking apples. Most of them remember attempting to walk the white pipe fence, especially the tricky gate. Grandma always had something fun to do and something good to eat. She loved playing the piano and could sound out a tune by ear. Even when her eyesight was too poor to read the music, she continued to play the songs she loved. Vard would often lay near the furnace vent by the piano. He never said much, but he enjoyed watching whatever was going on.
They continued to get out and work together, even into their nineties. They could always be found in the garden or milking the cows. In fact, they were out on the Arizona Strip when Floss passed away. She was not feeling well early one morning and stepped outside the sheep wagon, feeling that she might be sick. She fell, hitting her head. The family took her to Kanab as quickly as possible, but she never regained consciousness and passed away in Kanab on March 24, 2008 at the age of 92.
Vard lost much of his eyesight and his hearing as he got older. He could see shadows and walk, but couldn’t recognize people. Life was difficult for him after Floss passed away. He was 93 years old at the time, and her death made him finally feel his age. He stopped milking the cows and working on the ranch and in his garden. He couldn’t bear to live in their home after Floss passed away. He lived with his children for the rest of his life, spending the majority of his time with Raymond in Alton. He passed away in Raymond’s home on October 1, 2011 at the age of 96.